Yakimali’s Gift

Written by Linda Covella
Review by Teresa Devine

Fernanda Marquina, the fifteen-year-old heroine of Linda Covella’s Yakimali’s Gift, is of mixed Spanish-Pima Indian ancestry, living in Mexico, New Spain in 1775, when she and her family join a colonization expedition to California.

Covella’s lean, engaging narrative follows the family on their four-month journey, during which Fernanda makes friends not only with a young woman named Gloria but also with Gloria’s handsome, brooding brother Miguel, who forms one side of the romantic triangle that occupies a chunk of the novel, with the other side being Nicolas, a young Spanish soldier.

Covella’s extensive research into the culture and society of the Spanish-settled New World is worked seamlessly into a very human story in which Fernanda’s quest to understand her mother’s Pima ancestry gradually takes center stage.

It is all very smoothly done, and Fernanda herself is a sparkling main character.